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Study Shows That Bath Salts are More Addictive Than Meth


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Since the emergence of cathinone-based bath salts as a popular recreational stimulant, scientists have been trying to determine why users take this “legal high” when they have such a disturbing and dangerous array of effects on behavior. In one of the first laboratory studies of MDPV (a bath salt; 3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone), scientists at The Scripps Research Institute found that these psychostimulant drugs are more addictive than meth, which is regarded as one of the most addictive drugs on the market (The Scripps Research Institute).

Cathinone derivatives were discovered by underground chemists in the early 2000s, and have been sold as bath salts and plant food to get around laws ever since; as cathinone is a Schedule 1 controlled substance (Bath salts could be more addictive than meth, study finds, Watson). These drugs, which are regarded as legal highs because they are sold as objects not meant for human consumption, can be taken intravenously, intranasally, or mixed with food (Browne). Because these drugs disrupt how the brain regularly removes dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin, users feel initial euphoria due to the excess of these neurotransmitters (Bath salts could be more addictive than meth, study finds). Because the brain activities that are disturbed by this drug are responsible for desire, pleasure, muscle movements and cognition, users also experience increased physical activity, paranoia, reduced sleep, reduced desire for food and water, and violent behaviors (Watson, Bath salts could be more addictive than meth, study finds).

In order to determine how addictive bath salts are, researchers from The Scripps Research Institute designed an experiment with rats that would allow the animals to self-administer either MDPV or meth by pressing a lever to have the drug delivered intravenously. They then increased how many times the rat would have to press the lever to get an additional dose of either drug. Researchers found that rats averaged about 60 lever presses for meth, but the average for MDPV was 600 lever presses – rats were willing to work more than ten times harder for a dose of MDPV than for a dose of meth (Watson). This would imply that bath salts are more addictive than meth. The research team is also planning on heading up another study in which they hope to study long-term behavioral effects of bath salts, such as MDPV (The Scripps Research Institute).

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for authorities to cut down on the production and consumption of these legal highs. Underground chemists are good at staying ahead of the law, and slightly modifying chemical compounds so that they can still sell their product legally. Also, these products are being advertised with labels that advise that they are not for human consumption, deflecting responsibility from the manufacturers to the consumers. When people use these, it can result in deadly consequences for them and others – a lot of the violence that results from bath salts results in suicide. Because these are more addictive than meth, it will also present serious problems for people trying to stop using these substances on their own. People who are addicted to bath salts need professional help, as this drug is more dangerously potent and addictive than we previously knew.


Works Cited

“Bath salts could be more addictive than meth, study finds.” 11 July 2013. Fox News. Web. 11 July 2013.

Browne, Desiree. “Your Kid’s New Favorite Drug Is More Addictive Than Meth.” 11 July 2013. Mommy Noire. Web. 11 July 2013.

The Scripps Research Institute. “‘Bath Salts’ Stimulant Could Be More Addictive Than Meth, Study Shows.” 10 July 2013. ScienceDaily. Web. 11 July 2013.

Watson, Alice G. “Synthetic Drug ‘Bath Salts’ Trumps Methamphetamine In Addictiveness, Study Finds.” 10 July 2013. Forbes. Web. 11 July 2013.

Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs, Research · Tags: Bath Salts, cathinone, legal high, MDPV, more addictive than meth, The Scripps Research Institute

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